Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Large Families

Now that I have my fourth child, I believe I can officially say I have a large family.

You see, demographers maintain that in order for a society to break even in terms of population growth, every woman needs to bear 2.1 children in her life - 1 to make up for herself, 1 to make up for her husband, and .1 to make up for the women who are infertile or abstinent.

So when we had our third baby, we proudly claimed to have achieved the work that it would normally take ten women to do.

But now we've got four bundles of joy, and it would seem to be getting extraneous, would it not? We've done our part to help out society, and now modern wisdom holds that it's time to do the responsible thing and stop breeding.

But just the other day I read another bit of 1961's Catholic Viewpoint on Over-Population, which I've referred to before. Fr. Anthony Zimmerman is talking about the myth that contraception brings about fewer abortions by saying that the argument only works in a society where conception is avoided; in other words - only a contraceptive society has fewer abortions. He explains it further by delving into a society before contraception:

People were willing to have the children as they came. Promoters [of contraception] must first reverse this psychological attitude through propaganda, making babies to appear as burdensome, undesirable, and unnecessary. Only then can they sell the idea of contraception; and after contraception comes the first surge of abortions. A further intensification of the contraceptive campaign only increases the degree of hostility toward children, and the compulsion to abort after a failure. In the final situation a continued popularization of effective contraception may or may not reduce abortions; but the abortion rate will certainly remain infinitely above the level of the precontraceptive era. This has been the experience of Japan, where abortions were very few before 1948, but now number more than 2,000,000 per year.

Part of my own vision of my vocation as a husband and a father is to live the culture of life. I take a certain form of delight when people drop their jaws at the size of my family, especially when I tell them that we're not necessarily done. Then I like to help them recognize that the widespread cultural acceptance of the small family is an anomaly in history. I do this by referring to another concept that Fr. Zimmerman points out: any given person generally doesn't need to go back more than 2 generations to discover a large family. I pointed this out to a coworker today when she expressed amazement at the number of kids I now have, and she admitted that her own dad was from eight kids, and her mom was from twelve.

Other people talk about how expensive kids are these days, which is total bunk. Sure, we need to feed them and clothe them and send them to school and enroll them in extracurricular activities, but we don't need to go nuts in any of those elements. Even on a single income, our family makes enough to get by and still give to charity. We get our national child care benefit (thanks again Prime Minister Harper, for including our non-daycare-mentality family!) and our child tax benefit. I work hard at my job, and earn promotions and raises. We buy clothes at end-of-season sales, and we purchase our groceries efficiently too. There are many measures we could undertake to become even more financially independent; we have yet to plant a vegetable garden or learn to make & repair our own clothes. So the "I can't afford any more kids" argument doesn't fly with me. You can always afford what's important to you. Ask yourself: are kids important?

That's what our society is missing today - and Zimmerman practically predicted it nearly fifty years ago.

The good news - again from Zimmerman - is:

Nature's veto against contraception provides a delicate screening process which sifts the human race over the course of centuries. The prohibition is observed more carefully, to some extent at least, by the more conscientious members of the race. As a result, the offspring of conscientious couples gain some numerical advantage over those of contraceptors; in the course of generations this tends to sift out the segments of the race which practice contraception, and the favor the increase of the segments with stronger will power. The race is thus kept on a higher moral plane.

So my advice to any like-minded Catholic couples out there: breed like there's no tomorrow, for if you don't, there won't be.


  1. Four, the number of children we always wanted and the number we had, though our first is absent from bis body and present with his Lord.

    Because of my vasectomy, made in our self oriented Protestant wisdom some 14 years ago, we are no longer able to have kids. I actually took that to one of my earlier confessions.

    God bless you and yours.


  2. Thats the plan.

  3. We are working hard towards fielding our own Baseball team!!! But as of right now we don't quite have enough to let the kids have there own foursome on the golf course. Hopefully not too much longer for #4!

    - Bart


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